Wednesday, March 18

Practice Before Nationals and States

Here is a post that I first wrote in February 2008. With the upcoming national and state championship tournaments, I feel this bit of advice is especially apt now.

Every few months, I beg my students to take advantage of the opportunity they have to practice chess against live opponents on the Internet Chess Club (or even other game sites). In fact, the internet is the #1 reason why kids are more advanced than their counterparts even 10 or 15 years ago. Today anyone can easily find a strong opponent from the comfort of home without having to drive to a chess club or a tournament.
Think about it this way: playing chess is like playing a sport or an instrument. Your coach can demonstrate new techniques to you, but in the end, it all comes down to you executing. You need to spend time repeating your moves or your songs, over and over. Practice makes perfect! In fact, you can't lie to your sports or music teacher because he or she can easily tell who diligent and who was lazy. Chess is not much different.
The fastest way to get a game on ICC is to join one of the so-called pools. When you enter one of the pools, you wait a few seconds (up to a minute or two for the slow pool) and a game with a human opponent near your rating will automatically pop up. You don't need to issue a seek or do anything else. It is that easy! I highly recommend the 15-minute and 5-minute pools to anyone trying to improve or looking for practice.
  • type 5 for the 5-minute pool - practice tactics and try out openings
  • type 15 for the 15-minute pool - more time to think and calculate
  • type 1 for the 1-minute pool - exercise your mouse (warning: fun yet addictive)
Now what are you waiting for? Get off your %$@# behind and get some practice!

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